Alaska – Northbound on the Inside Passage

Alaska – Northbound on the Inside Passage

Our version of looking for wild life on a cruise

“In a fog, but this one not alcohol induced”.

One of the nice things about  cruising is that you can order room service, any time, at no cost. So we always have coffee, juice and croissants delivered to our room first thing in the morning. After an early-ish turn-in last night, Scott got up early enough to greet our morning breakfast tray dressed in more than just boxer-briefs. Delivery a few minutes earlier than the requested range, the coffee was a welcome start to the day.

The morning weather was foreboding – suggesting a day of socked-in fog. Fortunately conditions quickly improved, and we realized that when we were close-in between parcels of land the fog “lifted”; only when we were in more open conditions did it descend on us again. Scott checked out a port lecture (“can’t recommend it too highly”), Kathy flitted between cabin and veranda to watch the waters and shore for wildlife signs (saw a couple of whales, couple of boats).

Watching for wildlife, reading a history of Alaska. Bliss!

We were able to keep track our our progress with a neat little iPad tool called MapsWithMe. It uses the the iPads GPS for location, and stores the maps we need locally (since there is no cell phone service in the wilderness).

Keeping track of our track

In the afternoon we got a bit of Room Service food – always wondered what a “Thai vegetarian wrap” was: we’re still wondering because, while it was reasonably tasty, it bore little resemblance to the description. The smoked salmon was, well, smoked salmon – always appreciated, attractively presented, and hard to screw up. Could have benefited from a few more capers.


Noshing on our balcony

Our inaugural dinner at the “Vista Dining room”, which isn’t especially descriptive unless the “view” was supposed to be the 1917 other passengers. The restaurant occupies the aft portion of two decks; our table is a “deuce” (table for 2 in restaurant parlance) – number 90. The waitstaff is largely Indonesian, the Wine Stewards tend to be Filipino – whether this is a Muslim/Christian split or just that Filipinos are more likely to have western training in alcohol than their Indonesian counterparts? We’ve noticed this split on other ships too. Anyway they’re all pleasant and eager to please.

Dressed for formal dinner; note the dense fog behind us

Naturally, having spent so much time on MV Discovery, whose food we characterized as “resistible”, we found ourselves comparing the two ships’ products. The Holland American kitchen is serving more than three times the number of passengers and is probably less budget-constrained. Yet, we found the food comparable or perhaps slightly in favor of Discovery. Scott found the proteins (last night’s steak, tonight’s salmon) largely tasteless and under-seasoned; Kathy’s duck tonight proffered little of its proposed charms: “maple lacquered”: rather a somewhat rubbery, overcooked and under-flavored entrée. They did well on the onion soups, however, and brought a respectable tiramisu to share – both portion size (not overwhelming) and texture/flavor. A bottle of Pinot Grigio from California seemed a huge bargain at thirty bucks, after BC’s liquor prices.

Scott is quickly copping an attitude about the food on board, based on only two meals. Whether that’s a fair characterization remains to be seen.

Tomorrow brings a catamaran tour of “Tracy Arm”, an easterly-inlet too small for our ship to ply. At the end of it is a glacier which, weather-allowing, should offer a stunning view

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